So, what would happen if director Ted Demme ate some psychedelic mushrooms, then watched ‘Charade’, ‘Mulholland Drive’, and ‘The Bicycle Thief’ (about 10 times each), and then asked a Hollywood studio exec to help him work out the finer points of artistic expression?
What would probably happen is that he’d get ill and excrete something like ‘The Truth About Charlie’.
Wow, what the heck was he thinking? Marie and I went to see this movie knowing nothing about it other than what we gleaned from seeing the trailer a few times. It looked like it could be good fun. It was good fun, but only because of the vast mother lode of mockable plot contrivances and hackneyed cinematic clichés. Marie kept having to shush me so that I wouldn’t disturb the other theatergoers, but my reaction was virtually involuntary.
Markie Mark (Mark Wahlberg): He should do his career a favor and only work in Paul Thomas Anderson’s films. He was amazing to the point of Oscar-worthiness in ‘Boogie Nights’, but in ‘Charlie’ he is a drab, generic schlub, with no facets that make us care (good or bad) what happens to him. And, with his Neanderthal forehead and furrowed brow, he looks remarkably like a constipated gorilla throughout this movie.
Thandie Newton: She makes the best of terrible, trite dialogue and contrived situations. She’s pretty darned cute and probably has good things in store for her career-wise.
Tim Robbins: Looks like he cashed the check before filming began and had nothing to gain/lose from his performance. Not exactly sleepwalking, but certainly expending only the minimum amount of effort necessary to avoid shameful embarrassment.
Rest of Cast: Ehhh.
The good news is that nothing blows up, and there’s not much (for Hollywood) gratuitous violence, and none of the staged Matrix/XXX/etc fantasy-fighting. There is, however, a surplus of faux-romantic Parisian vignettes, but there are no sparks between…anyone in this movie.